Blog archive: All

  • 4th November 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    I don't often get emails from the Saudi government, but one arrived yesterday offering me $5,000. It came from the Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC) which is looking for "collaborative input" on plans to transform the Saudi capital into "a sustainable, responsible, inspiring place to...
  • 24th October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A former head of the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW has accused the organisation of "irregular behaviour" during its investigation of an alleged chemical attack in Syria last year, according to reports circulating on the internet. The remarks by José Bustani, director-general of the OPCW...
  • 17th October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    An emeritus professor at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has angrily resigned from the board of a science journal after it declined to publish a paper he co-authored about a nerve agent attack in Syria. In his resignation letter, Theodore Postol, an MIT expert on...
  • 13th October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Where is Gaïd Salah? That's the question many Algerians are asking. Following the resignation of President Bouteflika last April military chief Salah emerged as the regime's dominant figure but now he has suddenly vanished from sight. Theories abound, but evidence is scarce. According to the...
  • 11th October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Twitter's hashtags offer a quick and easy way to find out what people are saying on a given topic. But for those who dislike what is being said there's also a quick and easy way to obstruct the discussion: they can summon an army of bots to flood the hashtag with irrelevant tweets. This is a...
  • 9th October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Contractors in Saudi Arabia have begun levelling the ground for a new section of the Haramain high-speed rail line, with instructions to have it completed within three weeks.  The new track, several hundred metres in length, will bypass Jeddah station which was badly damaged by fire on...
  • 2nd October 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Saudi Arabia's high-speed railway linking the holy cities of Mecca and Medina took 10 years to build and cost more than $16 billion. It was meant to be a triumph of design and engineering but on Sunday, less than a year after carrying its first paying passengers, the line was shut down when one...
  • 27th September 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The United States has concluded that the Assad regime carried out a chemical attack in north-western Syria last May, secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced on Thursday. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, he said:  "This attack was part of the...
  • 22nd September 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Egyptian authorities have issued a notice to accredited foreign journalists based in Cairo. Basically it seeks to restrict their reporting of demonstrations by demanding compliance with some rather bizarre "professional standards" -- presumably with the threat of expulsion if they disobey...
  • 21st September 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Twitter announced on Friday that it has closed down a series of accounts connected with the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as part of its effort to shed more light on "state-backed information operations". Regarding the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, it said: "We have removed a network of...
  • 19th September 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The political crisis in Algeria is about to take a turn for the worse as the authorities attempt subdue street protests ahead of a presidential election. On Wednesday Gaïd Salah, the army's chief of staff, ordered police to stop buses and cars transporting demonstrators into the capital for...
  • 18th September 2019
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Writing in the New York Times on Monday, Martin Griffiths, the UN's special envoy for Yemen, outlined "seven elements" that "will necessarily underpin any agreement to end the war". The components for a peace deal are "in plain sight", Griffiths said – and few would disagree with them as...

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